If you’ve tuned into this month’s webinar, Learning to effectively cope with change, you’ll be familiar with the notion that we humans don’t really like change, nor do we often take it in our stride. While there’s truth to this, it doesn’t exactly fill us with hope when it comes to facing it or coping with it, but actually, while we don’t necessarily enjoy the experience we can handle change really quite well.
When we think back over the past few years, we have faced numerous changes. The pandemic changed the ways we work, view our health, and think about mental health, to political, societal and technological changes and developments we’ve lived through in a short space of time. Even the way we view money and have possibly had to make cutbacks due to the financial crisis we’re now facing.
It’s been a lot to go through, even for those of us who are super curious and intrigued by the new. But we’ve done it. So if humans are so resistant to change, how have we made it through?
Thank your resilience
We don’t tend to like change because of the uncertainty it brings - and we’re definitely familiar with how uncomfortable that can feel. Uncertainty allows our anxiety to thrive, we worry about what changes mean, what our futures will look like, and how it’ll impact those around us, even when it’s something we decide to do for the good of our wellbeing - like seeking out therapy, joining the gym or trying to improve our sleep habits.
Whether the change we face is something we’re excited about or dreading, it brings a level of uncertainty that makes it uncomfortable for us. So it’s not that we can’t cope with change, but that we don’t really enjoy doing it - and that’s quite understandable.
Does it mean we should avoid it? Absolutely not. We could try to, but in an ever-changing world around us, it would likely be harder than learning to cope with it. And we don’t need to avoid it, because we’re actually very resilient to change, naturally.
Humans are designed to adapt and evolve to new things - we just find it uncomfortable. The journey we’ve taken through the last few years has been turbulent for many, ups and downs, changes, loss, uncertainty and it’s all had an impact on our mental health and ability to cope with everyday life - of course at different levels for each of us.
But we’re here. It might have been quite smooth, and it might have been really challenging but we are here. Thanks to our resilience. Our ability to bounce back, adapt to new circumstances and move forward in our lives.
When we’re in the thick of changing something in our lives, whether we’ve chosen to make it or it’s out of our hands and we’ve got to adapt, it’s difficult to remember that we’ll make it through, despite it feeling tough right now.
So when we’re facing change and it feels like a challenge, how can we remember that we will make it through?
5 ways to remember you’re resilient
1. Reflect. Reflect on all your past changes or challenges, and reflect on how you made it through. Perhaps unphased and quickly, but others slower and more painfully. Looking back can help us recognise how resilient we really are, and how we can be again when facing current changes, or in the future.
2. Use affirmations. Affirmations are words or phrases that resonate with you and help us cement thoughts. Like a narrative we tell ourselves, the more we say it, the more we believe and start to naturally presume this way - telling ourselves we’re bad at handling change and we can’t do it is likely to cement this idea and mean we avoid it in the future. Telling ourselves we are resilient, we can overcome hardship, we can do hard things, etc allows us to face change with more curiosity than fear.
3. Speak to people in similar circumstances. When we’re facing a daunting change alone we can easily forget about our resilience. It might be out of sight so out of mind. But speaking to others who have overcome similar challenges, or even been thrilled by the opportunity, can remind us we too are resilient, we can also make it through.
4. Slow your pace. Taking change slowly, rather than rushing through it to find the solution or reach proposed outcomes, can allow us time to process each step of the change we’re making. This allows us to recognise our resilience as well as soothe tough feelings if they come up, whereas rushing can cause us to feel overwhelmed and stuck in changing circumstances.
5. Seek support. Sometimes when we face particularly difficult changes, like job loss or a bereavement, we can find it really challenging to see through to a point where we’ll feel ok or things will return to normal. It can be really helpful to seek support from a professional to help you rediscover your resilience, and learn new coping strategies that help you adapt while feeling emotionally supported throughout.
And of course, not all change will leave us quaking in our boots. Some changes we face are really quite manageable with minimal interference in our daily lives - like when the weather disrupts your plans for a weekend away or a day trip with the kids. It’s disappointing sure, but not the end of the world and we might easily feel able to overcome this.
But when change or difficult circumstances leave you struggling to meet your usual responsibilities, become overwhelming to cope with or interfere with your day-to-day life, seeking support is really important.
We are resilient beings, who find uncertainty uncomfortable sure, but can get through a monumental amount of change and challenge at that! Sometimes we need a helping hand to get us through, other times we might just need a little nudge in the right direction - head to Copingwell to start the webinar, it’s really handy.